Nonprofit professionals at all levels of the organization interface with volunteers. From the board members who steer your mission to the event volunteers who handle logistics, your volunteers are some of your most valuable assets, allowing you to accomplish so much more that you could with paid staff alone.
UNLV Continuing Education is offering Effective Volunteer Management on Nov. 2 and 9. The course is led by Scott Emerson, American Red Cross Regional COO (Nevada and Utah) and Executive Director (S. Nevada). Scott began his long relationship with American Red Cross as a youth and volunteered for a dozen years before becoming an employee. He has had a team of over 1,000 volunteers support the efforts of American Red Cross under his leadership. He volunteers his time and expertise as a board member for Golden Rainbow and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Southern Nevada. Learn more about Scott here: http://www.redcross.org/local/nevada/southern-nevada/about-us/leadership.
So what does instructor Scott Emerson have in store for you at his upcoming class? He will offer concrete ideas to effectively find, manage, maximize, and reward this unique workforce. On numerous fronts, volunteers need many of the same things paid staff members need. They thrive with respect, training, supervision, clear expectations, actionable feedback, and rewarding assignments. Volunteer programs can quickly veer off course, however, when we fail to address all the ways volunteers do not conform to the standard employee model.
Nonprofits need to find ways to create opportunities that are both useful to the organization and meaningful for volunteers. The class will help you work through key questions about whether your group is ready to utilize volunteers. Have you defined jobs volunteers can tackle? Have you thought through liability issues? Who will supervise and train your volunteers? Thinking about these questions before you post your first call for help will pay off in the long run and helps both staff and volunteers understand expectations. Need help assessing your organizational readiness? You need this class!
Volunteer managers must invest extra time up front into making sure they’ve made the right match of person to task via the application and screening process. As much as possible, get to know your volunteers’ interests and skills, and find out what brought them to your organization. Knowing their motivation will help you keep volunteers engaged and reduce turnover and training in the long run. Want tools to help with the application, screening, and matching process? Scott has tips to share!
Volunteers are motivated by work they find meaningful; they want to see their time commitment translate into positive impact for a cause with which they connect. The roles volunteers perform are many—program support, leadership and vision, fundraising, outreach. Your volunteers will come to you with a broad range of pre-existing skills. Some may have done similar work for years; others see volunteering as a chance to build skills that will translate to the workplace down the road. Show all your people you value their time and effort by investing in consistent, high-quality training. Ready to collaborate? Come ready to share training ideas that are working for you!
Rewarding volunteers is a topic unto itself, but Scott will definitely address it. Volunteers might enjoy a big annual celebration, or they may prefer getting more frequent reminders of how what they are doing directly impacts your mission. Certainly all appreciate a personal “Thank you.” Budgets big and small, there are reward ideas to fit them all!
Here’s where we’re at in Nevada. 19.4 percent of Nevadans volunteer, compared to a national average of 25.3 percent; this ranks our state 49th out of all states plus Washington, D.C. We can either get discouraged about this, or decide that we have a tremendous capacity for growth. With effective volunteer management practices in place, local nonprofits, schools, and government programs can move our ranking higher. When you look at the volunteer retention rate in Nevada, 64.5 percent, the state ranks far higher at number 22; this suggests many local nonprofits are on the right track when it comes to retention efforts. Join us for Effective Volunteer Management and commit to having a positive impact on these statistics for our state and local community!